Well, relaxing didn’t seem to help.
Sure, Max Scherzer seemed relaxed and efficient, keeping the A’s to 4 base runners and no earned runs through 5 1/3, while striking out 8.
Unfortunately the bats were a bit relaxed as well, as the Tigers only managed to score 3 runs despite 10 hits, and although Fielder had a big fly, his relaxed glove at first led to Oakland’s 6th inning unearned run,
But all that relaxing was nothing compared to the 9th inning tension spawned by Jose Valverde, who gave up runs until the A’s didn’t need any more. If that seems like the same old 2012 Valverde to some, it did come in a new flavor: he was sporting a new pre-delivery back waggle (his actual delivery appeared to be the same).
Everyone seemed to notice it except Valverde and Avila, who both said, nope, nothing different.
Now both ends of the backend bullpen tandem have blown leads already this series. And if Tiger fans aren’t tense enough going into tonight’s deciding game, be aware that both Benoit and Valverde are ready to go tonight, and it would be very unlike Jim Leyland to not go back to his 8th inning and 9th inning guys again tonight.
In the heat of the moment last night, I found myself hoping that that was the last time I would see Valverde closing a game in a Tiger uniform. Since the only way that will happen is if they lose tonight, I take it back.
Speaking of Leyland, in case you missed it, he says he is not going to go away, and intends to continue managing beyond this season. (Whether or not the Tigers make that decision for him has probably been affected by knowing that Francona is now unavailable as a replacement).
At any rate, one thing that has worked out is that it is Justin Verlander’s turn to take the mound. For all of those of who answer Verlander to the question which pitcher would you want in one must-win game, here you go. Hopefully he keeps the pitch count low and limits bullpen opportunities; if I were JV they might need to call security to keep me from taking the mound in the 9th.
Stat of the Day: Fielder and Cabrera combined for an 0-for-5 against tonight’s starter Jarrod Parker in Game 1.
Today’s Player of the Pre-game: Miguel Cabrera. Time for Mr. Triple Crown to stop hugging it out with Inge and the A’s, and unleash an MVP-worthy performance.
Today’s Rubbery Lineup: